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‘Pretends to be Something of a Sailor’
Patrick Weldon, Runaway

March 4, 1756

The Pennsylvania Gazette

RUN away on the 13th of last month, from the subscriber,

living in Bordentown, in the county of Burlington, and western division of New Jersey, A likely servant lad, named Patrick Weldon, he is a native of Ireland, and has something of the brogue on his tongue, about 19 years of age, of a fair complexion, somewhat down looking. Had on, and took with him,

A felt hat, an old brown vest, and an under one, the fore parts black broad cloth, and the back brown camblet, the skirts rounded before, and an old bearskin one, made sailor fashion, patched on the elbows, new ozenbrigs shirt, and an old check one, leather breeches, that has been died black, but are much faded, with metal buttons, yarn stockings, old shoes, newly soaled, with steel buckles in them.

Whoever will secure him so that his master may have him again shall have Three Pounds reward, and reasonable charges, paid by me.


N.B. It is supposed he will get to sea. He pretends to be something of a sailor; [1] therefore this serves to forewarn all masters of vessels not to carry him off at their peril.


1. Again, we see the invalidating note that “he pretends” to be something other than a servant to his master. Patrick is not alone in being suspected of running away to sea. This is astonishing, as service aboard any ship of the age was the deadliest occupation one could have other than Indian Fighter and ships masters were literally the masters of their men and held power of life and death, even outside the naval services. Life on board private ships was so harsh that many sailors ran away as soon as they made port, even running away to live with tribes in the Northwest expected to be cannibals. This man even wears a garment “made sailor fashion.”

America in Chains

Add Comment
Sam J.February 5, 2017 12:11 AM UTC

"... even running away to live with tribes in the Northwest expected to be cannibals..."

You know you're in a bad way when you consider it a good option to run away to a tribe of possible cannibals.
responds:February 5, 2017 2:53 AM UTC

When one group of seven British sailors found out that the cannibals also practiced enslavement they ran away to another tribe, were recovered and killed by being forced to swallow stones.